Naked Sleeper: A Novel

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HarperCollins, 1996 - Fiction - 235 pages
1 Review
Feckless, nervous, irresolute, often troubled with insomnia, Nona longs for a life of firm purpose, order and dignity. To do whatever is the work before her, letting nothing distract her, expecting nothing, fearing nothing -- the way of the Stoics -- this is her ideal. But despite all her stratagems, this ideal constantly eludes her. Life is too unpredictable, her sense of self too fragile and human relationships are too tenuous. She muddles along, a victim of her own anxieties and resentments, her behavior often as mystifying to herself as it is to others. Why though, happily married, does she fly across the country to pursue a man she hardly knows, whom she intuitively mistrusts and does not even much care for? In the aftermath of this calamity, Nona separates from her husband and undergoes a period of intense self-examination. Meanwhile, she struggles to complete a book about her father, a painter, who died when she was a child.

Out of both projects -- her work of introspection and her work of memory -- arise thorny questions about love, identity and destiny. Unexpected support appears in the form of one of her father's old lovers, whom Nona now meets for the first time. But while this new friendship thrives, relations between Nona and her husband, and between Nona and her mother, with whom she shares an anguished history, seem to be coming apart. Nona has barely achieved a somewhat surer sense of herself and her way in the world when a series of grave, unforeseeable events threaten her precarious equilibrium.

Compelling, emotionally charged and written with the psychological precision and exquisite detail that are among the hallmarks of Nunez's work, "Naked Sleeper" is aboutinescapable and sometimes unendurable complexities of love and the family drama. It is the story of a woman's search for self-knowledge, for understanding of others and for an answer to the imperative question: "How should she live?"

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

The promise Nunez revealed in her acclaimed 1995 debut, A Feather on the Breath of God, is here fulfilled and magnified, as she follows the struggles of a woman to know her father and understand ... Read full review

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User Review  - BinnieBee - LibraryThing

I am going to have to find out where I got my latest recommendations and stop taking that magazine's advice for what to read! Again, I have to say this book was spell-bindingly good, but all the way ... Read full review


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About the author (1996)

Sigrid Nunez is the author of the novels Salvation City, "The Last of Her Kind", "A Feather on the Breath of God", and "For Rouenna", among others. She has been the recipient of several awards including a Whiting Writers' Award, the Rome Prize in Literature, and a Berlin Prize Fellowship. She lives in New York City.

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